Historical Sketches of Iowa Baptists, 1886

S. H. Mitchell

Published by Burdette Co., Burlington, Iowa

Pages 276-284


The Western Iowa Association Organized at Adel
IN 1859 Comprising the Entire North-West
Quarter of the State --- And at one Time Dakota --1859 to 1886.

AGREEABLE to a request of the churches at Adel, Dallas county, and Panora, Guthrie county, a council convened at Adel on the 23d day of September, 1859, for the purpose of organizing the Western Iowa Baptist Association. Elder A.W. Russell was chosen Moderator and Cole Noel of Adel clerk. The churches represented at this meeting were Adel, Wintersett, Panora, Sac City, Jefferson and Buffalo Grove. The membership was 154 in the six churches. These, with a single exception so far as known, comprised all the Baptist churches then existing west of Des Moines, and north of a line running through Winterset, 25 miles south of that city. The first seed sown by Baptists in all this great region was probably at Denison, Crawford county, the exception referred to above. Rev. J. W. Denison "came to Crawford county in the autumn of 1855, and during that and the next year selected a quantity of land for the 'Providence Western Land Company,' and in September, 1856, began the settlement of the town of Denison" which took its name from him. In 1857 there was here an unassociated church with 16 members. The ministers present at this first meeting of the Association were A. W. Russell, Winterset, J. Ellege of Madison county, L. Yarnell of Adel, Charles Oldfield Sac City, and Barton Robinson of Buffalo Grove or Rippey.

The first anniversary was held August 31, 1860, at Panora. A. W. Russell preached the introductory sermon and was elected Moderator, and J.W. Denison clerk. The Denison, Guthrie Center, Rippey and Montpelier churches were received. The Rippey Church probably took the place of Buffalo Grove which had disbanded. Rev. J. W. Denison, R. D. Tisdale and T. C. Townsend are additional ministers. Among visitors were the Rev. John Warren of the Eden Association, step-father of Dr. G. J. Johnson, Rev. Wm. Sparks, who may be called the father of the Upper Des Moines Association, and Rev. N". J. Rundquist, Colporteur of the American Baptist Publication Society. This brother was a Swede, and if we are not mistaken, one of the early converts in Sweden under the Baptist movement fostered by the Society in that country. The second anniversary was held in 1861 at Jefferson. Brother Barton Robinson preached the sermon. Officers the same as the previous year. Belonging to the Jefferson Church, and taking an active part in these early days, was Brother Dan. Mills, father of the founders of the great printing house of Mills & Co. of Des Moines. The Sioux City Church was received in 1861.

The meeting in 1862 was at Denison. Barton Robinson preacher again, R. D. Tisdale Moderator, E. S. Plimpton clerk. Winterset had completed a neat and comfortable house of worship and was out of debt. The next meeting was held in Winterset in 1863. Rev. J.W. Denison had been appointed to preach, but not arriving in time, the writer of these sketches being present was invited to preach. Text, " Let him that heareth say come." Rev. W. A. Eggleston was pastor at Winterset and was elected Moderator, E. J. Ayers clerk. The Clanton Church, Madison county, was received. This was the home of Elder Ellege, active in the early days of this body. In 1864 Adel was the place of meeting, J. Ellege preacher and Moderator, George Scott clerk. Brother Scott has just entered this field from a considerable term of similar service in northeastern Iowa. He appears at this time to have been living at Lake City, Calhoun county, and preaching there and at Denison, to which place he removed shortly after. Pastor Eggleston of Winterset was reported dangerously sick, and prayers were offered in his behalf. Elder Wm. E. Reed, also of northeastern Iowa, is preaching at Guthrie Center and Panora. The Association is now five years old and has 12 churches and 253 members.

Jefferson entertained the anniversary in 1865. Brother Denison preached the sermon, George Scott Moderator, J. E. Rockwood clerk. Brother Rockwood has become pastor at Sioux City, and they are building. For the next five years the Association met respectively at Denison, Lake Creek, Sioux City, Denison again, and Jefferson. Moderators were Brothers Eggleston, Russell, Scott, W. M. Simons, and Scott again. Brother Rockwood was clerk during this period, and the preachers of annual sermons were Rockwood, Ed Tuffin, Simons twice, and Scott. In 1866 " A letter from brethren calling themselves the Maple Valley Church " was received and the Church welcomed with 9 members. This afterward became the Mapleton Church. Sioux City dedicated its house of worship and Jefferson has begun to build. In 1867 Kendrick Church in Green county was added, also Yankton, Dacotah, with 6 members, and, soon after, a church at Vermillion, Dacotah. The Western Iowa Association at this time comprised all the Baptist churches in all northwestern Iowa and Dacotah. In 1868 there was an encouraging revival. 110 baptisms were reported, of which Denison reported 11, Guthrie Center 16, Jefferson 21, Maple Valley 11, and Winterset 50. Winterset now dissolves her connection with this body and unites with the Central Iowa. Rev. Wm. M. Simons is pastor at Jefferson, and James Patrick at Maple Valley. The Logan Church was received, George Scott pastor in connection with Denison. In 1869 Modale and Soldier Valley Churches were added. C. G. Smith appears as pastor at Guthrie Center and Rippey. Hon. A. Abernathy was in attendance as a worker in the Association. Maple Valley reported 45 baptisms, Panora 28, and there were in all 105.

The year of 1870 witnessed the addition of the Panther Creek, Grant City, Woodbine and Castana churches. Amos Robinson was pastor at Jefferson, and E. G.O. Groat was welcomed back from Nebraska. Bro. Rockwood removed about 1869 to Logan. In 1871 Rev. James Sunderland has taken up the work at Sioux City. Cherokee and Union Ridge are added to the list of churches. Robert Dunlap has become pastor at Denison. The Wolf Creek, Dunlap, and Pioneer Church in Clay county unite with the Association in 1872. Mention was made at this time of a number of unassociated churches in the north-west part of the State, indicating activity in occupying that new field. A good revival interest has been enjoyed in places. The new Wolf Creek Church reports 29 baptisms. Rev. A. W. Hilton has become pastor at Cherokee, haihng from north-eastern Iowa. In 1873 six new churches were made welcome in the body. These were Storm Lake, New Testament Church, Newell, Spirit Lake, Sioux Rapids, and South Plymouth. Elder J. E. Sanders is preaching at Sioux Rapids, Norman Parks at Storm Lake, B. F. Goldsby at Logan, A. M. Duboc at Denison, Jacob Hockett at New Testament, J. W. Jones at Pioneer, and A. J. Delano at Jefferson. In 1874 at the anniversary at Dunlap, a letter was received from Elder Sunderland stating that the Sioux Valley Association had been constituted in August of that year with 11 churches and 349 members, of whom 88 had been baptized during the year. This left the Western Association with but 8 churches two pastors and 259 members. This is its fifteenth anniversary. The two pastors were A. M. Duboc and B. P. Goldsby.

For the five years, 1871 to 1875, the successive anniversaries were at Logan, Mapleton, Cherokee, Dunlap, and Soldier Valley. The Moderators were George Scott, R. Dunlap, J. Sunderland, B. F. Goldsby, and John Patrick. The clerks were Rockwood, Sunderland, Sanders, Duboc, and Sanders again. The annual sermons were preached by Sunderland, Dunlap, Groat, Goldsby and Sanders. These names for the respective periods serve to show who were the active burden bearers. In 1S76 the New Union Church united. While the records show, as reported above, only two pastors left after the organization of the Sioux Valley Association, yet the Patricks, James and John, were undoubtedly preaching in their vicinity and in 1876 the latter is said to have closed a pastorate of eight years at Soldier Valley. There were some glorious revivals in 1877. Denison reported 35 baptized, J. B. Hawk pastor; Logan 19, and Maple Valley 14.. J. E. Sanders was preaching at Maple Valley, Rev. J. E. Rockwood closed about this time an active service of thirteen years in this Association and removed to Nebraska. The Carroll Church was received in 1878. Magnolia and Missouri Valley applied for admission, but, having neglected to call Councils for recognition, were advised to wait until the neglect was remedied. Rev. J. M. Bay appears as pastor at Modale. In 1879 the Magnolia and the Sheridan Township Church, Carroll county, were received. Rev. Ira E. Kenney was a delegate from Dunlap. Hon. Alonzo Abernathy was elected Moderator in expectation of his arrival, but not appearing in time Brother Sanders was substituted. At the session at Dunlap in 1879 their meeting house was dedicated, Rev. J. A. Nash, D.D., of Des Moines preaching the sermon. The Ida Grove and West Side Churches were added in 1880. Rev. J. W. Daniels was pastor at Ida Grove, and Demas Robinson at the Sheridan Church. For the five years, 1876 to 1880, the anniversaries were at Denison, Logan, Soldier Valley, Dunlap and Carroll. Moderators, George Scott three years in succession, J. E. Sanders and Ira E. Kenney, D. D. The introductory sermons were by J. E. Rockwood, John Patrick, J. B. Hawk, J. E. Sanders, and Ira E. Kenney. From 1881 to 1885 the meetings were at Denison, Ida Grove, Dow City, Logan and Mapleton. Moderators, Ira E. Kenney, Amos Robinson, Thomas Reese, S. H. Mitchell, and W. H. H. Avery. Clerks, J. E. Sanders, W. H. Dorward, F. M. Archer, and H. S. Fisher the last two years. The introductory sermons were by F. W. Foster, A. Robinson, Thomas Reese, Wm. E. Randall, and Brother Avery.

Brother Amos Robinson succeeded pastor Hawk at Denison in 1881. W.H. Dorward was pastor the same year at Mapleton, J. E. Sandersat Carroll, C. A. McManis at Ida Grove, F. W. Foster at Dow City and E.G.O. Groat at Logan. Ida Grove completed, led by Brother Daniels, a beautiful house of worship. The meeting at Ida Grove in 1862 was pronounced on adjournment "the best Associational gathering in our history.'' The frequent change of pastors is the subject of anxious regret. Not a pastor had been with his church three years. The Denison Church reported the decease of the honored Rev. J. W. Denison. A. J. Delano was preaching at Dunlap. During 1883 four churches completed houses of worship, viz. Missouri Valley, Woodbine, Dow City, and Mapleton. Dr. I. E. Kenney has been a liberal fosterer of these church building enterprises along the Boyer Valley. He preached dedicator}^ sermons for three of these churches within the year, and had contributed liberally towards their erection. Rev. T. S. Bovell was preaching at Carroll, F. M. Archer at Ida Grove, and J. C. Carter at Logan in 1883. In 1884 Rev. Wm. E. Randall is found at Missouri Valley, J. F. Heilner at Ida Grove, W. H. H. Avery at Denison and S. H. Mitchell Just settling at Mapleton. Not a pastor in the Association had been two years on his field.

The year 1885 exhibits some religions improvement. There were 71 baptisms reported. The largest number in any one year since 1869. Rev. W, N. McKendrick has been preaching at Grant City. Brother McKendrick was pastor at Mapleton a year or two at an earlier date which was not noticed in its proper place in this sketch. Rev. Wm. E. Randall removed late in 1884 from Missouri Valley to Dow City where he is being greatly blessed. Elder Reese is preaching at Dunlap. Of the baptisms reported in 1885, 36 were at Denison and 28 at Dow City. The Grant City Church, for several years connected with the Upper Des Moines Association, has returned to this body, and the Riverside Church in Sac county was received. The meeting in 1886 was at Woodbine. Elder Thomas Reese of Dunlap preached the annual sermon. H. S. Fisher Moderator, S. H. Mitchell clerk. It has been a year of increased spiritual blessing. Ninety-seven baptisms were reported; Dow City 28, Mapleton 21, Woodbine 12, Schaller 10, Ida Grove 9, Carroll 7, and Denison one. Mapleton has considerably more than doubled its effective membership. The meeting of the Association in 1886 was to have been at Denison, but during the previous winter their house of worship was entirely destroyed by fire, together with the pastor's library and many valuable papers. They are doing what they can to repair the damage, and ere another year will have a new and better home completed. At the annual meeting at Woodbine, Brother W. F. Gray of the new church at Schaller, organized during the year, and C. M. Wilcox of Grant City were, by request of their churches, publicly ordained as their pastors. Brother J. S. Norvell has been supplying for six months at Carroll with marked acceptance and success. It was gratefully mentioned as a source of encouragement that "most of our churches have pastors, and that permanency in the pastoral office is coming to be the rule and not a rare occurrence," but alas I alas, before the year expires, Carroll, Dow City, Ida Grove, Mapleton, and Woodbine are all actually or prospectively vacant, or have changed pastors.

Pages 464-470


The Coon Valley Association Organized in 1871.
Dallas, Guthrie, and parts of Boone, Greene, and Carroll Counties 1871 to 1886.

THE COON VALLEY BAPTIST Association was constituted in 1871, with eight churches, having four pastors and 330 members. The churches with the number of members reported the following year, were. Coon Valley, 41; Calamus Creek, 20; Perry, 44; Panora, 26; Panther Creek, 28; Pleasant Valley, 16; North Union, 61 and Guthrie Center, 59. The Guthrie Center, Panora, and Panther Creek churches were from the Western Iowa Association; the old North Union Church from the Upper Des Moines, and the other four were new organizations. The pastors were E. J. Wood, J. Hill, J. Carson and A. E. Simons. Brother Simons was the first clerk.

The second meeting was at Perry. Rev. J. Hill, Moderator, A. E. Simons, clerk, Deacon A. Parker treasurer. Father Hill preached the introductory sermon. 1872. The Mt. Zion Church was received. Among the pastors in 1872 in addition to those named before, are Rev. E. R. Swain at Coon Valley, Ed. Tuffin at Panora, and the venerable W. J. Sparks at North Union. A timely circular letter written by A. E. Simons, on "The duty of rendering to pastors a just compensation for their labors," was adopted and printed in the Minutes, Baptisms reported in 1872, 82, members 309. The anniversary in 1873 was at Guthrie Center. The opening sermon was by Rev. George Scott. A. E. Simons Moderator, Deacon C. F. Reed clerk. The Dexter Church was received with 13 members, but no pastor. The state of religion was reported very low. Only two baptisms in the Association. The Perry and North Union churches have completed meeting houses. The Perry and Guthrie Center churches report Baptist Sabbath Schools; two others report union schools.

In 1874 met at North Union. Introductory sermon by J. Hill, Moderator George Scott, clerk A.E. Simons. Mount Zion Church has become extinct, but the Stuart and Freedom churches were received. Rev. George Scott is preaching at Dexter and Stuart. There is some increase of spiritual interest, 48 baptisms reported, and 389 members, A gain of 90. A missionary committee, appointed the year before, had employed Rev. Wm. Wood of Cedar Falls for three months, at a salary of $50 per month. He had labored in protracted meetings at Perry, Guthrie Center, Calamus Creek and North Union. The work had been self sustaining, enough being received on the field to pay all expenses. Brother Wood had been entirely laid aside by sickness for some time. The fifth anniversary was held in 1875 at Perry. Introductory sermon by Rev. Wm. J. Sparks, Rev. H. S. Cloud Moderator, A. E. Simons clerk. The church at Perry had had a great revival and baptized 53. They have enlarged their parsonage and made it a commodious dwelling place for their pastor's family. They have a prosperous mission station at Peoples Settlement, 8 miles east, which will ere long become a self-sustaining church. Baptisms reported in the Association 75, other additions 43, members 475. The amount reported for church expenses, $2,450; grand total for all purposes $2571.20.

In 1870 the Association met with the Freedom Church. Rev. H. S. Cloud preached the annual sermon and was elected Moderator, Brother Simons still clerk. The churches were all represented except Panora, and four new churches were received. These were Richland Center, North Branch, South Coon and Dallas Center. Rev. J. Carson is preaching at Richland Center and South Coon, H.S. Fish at North Branch, where there are 53 members, and at Guthrie Center, and Rev. Demas Robinson at Stuart. Brother Robert McCoy, of the Calamus Creek Church, wrote a circular letter on "The faithful performance of work by the Lay Members of the church," which was read and adopted and ordered printed in the minutes. It was the writer's privilege to witness the baptism of Brother McCoy in 1868, he having been previously a member of the Church of England. The circular letter written by him shows a very intelligent and just view of the duties of a Christian and a member of the church.

In 1877 the Association met with the Coon Valley church. Brother Simons preached the sermon and was Moderator, C. F. Reed clerk. The Dexter church had disbanded. Rev. E. G. O. Groat was preaching at Guthrie Center and Dallas Center, Brother Wm. Hooks at Panther Creek, C. F. Reed at Coon Valley and North Branch, J. F. McCluen at Richland Center, J. M. Gilbert at Calamus Creek, H. S. Cloud at Freedom and Pleasant Valley, J. Carson at South Coon, A. E. Simons at Perry, W. J. Sparks at North Union, and J. A. Nash at Stuart.

The Association met in 1878 for its Eighth Anniversary with the Peoples Mission, of the Perry Church. Rev. J. Z. Zimmerman was, by a vote of the body, invited to preach the opening sermon. Rev. J. F. Childs, of Des Moines, was elected Moderator, C. F. Reed, clerk. The Casey Church was received with 7 members, C. F. Reed, pastor. Brother Childs is preaching at Stuart and A. J. Delano at Guthrie Center. Rev. Wm. J. Sparks died June 30, 1878. The church at Stuart have bought a house of worship and fitted it up at a cost of $464.50. Met in 1879 at Guthrie Center. Rev. J. F. Childs preached the annual sermon and was elected Moderator, C. F. Reed, clerk. Rev. A. E. Simons, who has been pastor of the Perry Church from its organization, and one of the most efficient members of this body through the ten 3^ears of its history, has removed and taken up work at Parkersburg, in the Cedar Valley Association. Rev. J. M. Gilbert, of Calamus Creek, is also missed from the councils of this Association, but Rev. A. Hunt appears as pastor at Coon Valley and H. W. Wilson at Perry. The North Union Church has returned to the Upper Des Moines Association, and the Peoples Mission has become a separate organization and united with that body also. Rev. H. S. Cloud has removed to Corning, Adams county, Iowa. The departure of Rev. J. Carson from this Association seems to have been a year or two earlier.

The anniversary in 1880 was held at Perry. Introductory sermon by W. F. Hooks. Moderator, A. Hunt, clerk and treasurer, A. D. Phelps of Perry. This anniversary was saddened and chastened by the death, December 4, 1879, of the beloved father, Rev. Joshua Hill of Guthrie Center, who had "by reason of strength reached four score years." The Casey, Richland Center and Dallas Center churches disappear from the records. Bro. E. Hatfield appears as pastor at Calamus Creek, A. Mackey at Guthrie Center, and L. W. Atkins at Stuart. Other pastors are W. F. Hooks and A. Hunt. There are now 10 churches, 5 pastors, 39 baptisms reported and 408 members. Of the baptisms 22 were at Guthrie Center. From 1881 to 1885 the anniversaries were held respectively at South Coon, Panther Creek, Fredonia, Pleasant Valley, and Peoples church. The Moderators in the order named were A. Hunt 4 years, and A. E. Simons ;clerks A. D. Phelps two years, A. E. Simons two years, and F. M. Gaines.

In 1881 Rev. A. Mackey preached the annual sermon, "A thrilling sermon from James 1:22, 'Be 3^e doers of the word, and not hearers only.' Rev. L. D. Lamkin was preaching; at Perry and Rev. J. M. Gilbert removed to Creighton, Nebraska. The Guthrie Center church spent $500 in permanent improvements. A Women's Missionary Society for the Association was organized. Sister R. E. Bailey president, Naomi Mackey secretary, and Sister R. B. Reed treasurer. In 1882 Rev, C. F. Reed preached the annual sermon. The new Bethel church of Audubon county was received, Charles Berry pastor. Rev. A. E. Simons, late in 1882, returned to his old field at Perry. In 1883 Rev. Charles Berry preached the introductory sermon. The Peoples Baptist church was received from the Upper Des Moines dissociation. Rev. Harmon Hunt pastor, with 35 members. Rev. W. A. Welsher of Des Moines was preaching at Stuart. During the Sabbath session of the Association at Freedom in 1883 the exercises were suspended to hear the experience of a sister who wished to unite with the Panther Creek church. This sister, who lived several miles from the place of meeting of any Baptist church, had been converted while at home alone, but desired to follow her Lord in baptism and find fellowship with his people. Her experience was clear and satisfactory, and she was unanimously received by the delegates of the church with which she wished to unite. Two others, a man and his wife, who had been immersed and were formerly members of the United Brethren church were also received into the fellowship of the Freedom church at the close of the morning service. It was voted to hold quarterly meetings of the Association, the object being "to pray and talk and preach the gospel, and plan for more and better work in the broad field the Lord has given us.''

In 1880 the Coon Rapids and Mount Zion Churches were received. Rev. A. Mackey was pastor at Coon Rapids, and A. Hunt at Mount Zion. Rev. R. R. Albin was preaching at Stuart. Baptisms were reported by the Peoples Church, 27; Perry, 11; Mt. Zion, 11; Stuart, 7; South Coon, 5; Coon Rapids, 3; Freedom, 2, and Panther Creek, one; making 67 in all; other additions, 52; total membership, 533. Rev. A. Mackey, besides Coon Rapids, is supplying New Bethel and North Branch. In 1885 the Dallas Center Church reappears with 45 members reported, but no statistics. A church called Union also appears with 41 members, A. Mackey pastor. Rev. F. M. Gaines is preaching at Freedom. In 1886 we find Rev. D. L. Clouse settled at Perry, F. M. Gaines preaching at Freedom, Pleasant Valley and Peoples, A. Mackey at Union and W. F. Hooks at Panther Creek. Baptisms 36; membership 548. Rev. A. E. Simons has yielded to the necessity of taking rest for a season from the full work of the pastorate, and is in business at Emerson, Iowa, but still preaching the Word as occasion offers. It is much to the credit of Rev. Wm. F. Hooks and the Panther Creek Church that, raised up and called into the ministry among that people, he has been enabled, regularly, to break unto them the Bread of life without interruption for ten year; first as licensed by them, and afterwards, January 29, 188U, Ordained. The important question of continuing in one place in the ministry has not been without consideration in the Coon Valley Association. At the meeting in 1885 the Circular Letter, written by Mrs. Naomi Mackey, treated with apathy the subject of the pastoral relation, and especially the advantages of long pastorates and how to secure them. We append one or two extracts. "A strangers first sermon may please the people immensely because it enunciates and explains some truth already thoroughly understood by them. The sermon may not lead them one step higher in Christian knowledge, but their self love has been tickled to find the stranger agreeing with them and stating their views eloquently. The pastor who has been long on the field learns where his people are weakest and on what points they most need instruction, and can govern himself accordingly. An old friend whose love has been proved so as to be beyond a doubt can do this much more efficiently than a recent acquaintance." That is, can reprove, rebuke, and give the needed instruction to strengthen the weak places. "A magnetic orator, without a clean heart, can rouse and fire and sway an audience by his presence and oratory and the result be little permanent good and much permanent evil.
*** But when personal magnetism and the grace and charm of oratory are backed by a known character of Christian consistency, then the oratory is a power for good. The pastor is to be a care-taker—one to lake care of the church. The preacher who stops with the church only a few months or a year hardly gets acquainted with the people, certainly not so acquainted as to love them and care for them as a pastor should. *** Even a farm that changes tenants every year is soon overgrown with weeds and in a dilapidated condition."

This Association has some elements of history peculiar to itself. Bordering closely upon the capitol of the State on one side, centrally located, and cultivating a district comprising in whole and in part, six counties, it has but one county seat church, and that not strong. It has few churches located in the towns. It has had less missionary aid, perhaps, relatively, than any other Association in the State. It has fewer meeting houses, or has had until recently, than other parts of the State. The churches are weak, and yet there has been a noble holding on and a faithful cultivating of the field with the means at hand.

By the advent of railroads and mining interests, changes are being wrought that betoken more rapid growth, and emphasize the importance of a more vigorous cultivation of this field and increased cooperation between the Association and our General Missionary Societies, State and Home.

These chapters of the book, Historical Sketches of Iowa Baptists, 1886, encompassed Guthrie County.
Transcribed by Constance Diamond, 2013.


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